In the latest issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, The Scrapbook lamented the wussification of the United States Naval Academy, in light of its decision to ungrease the greased pole. Traditionally, plebes completing their first year joined together to ascend the 21-foot Herndon Monument and place an upperclassman's hat atop it--a task made infinitely more difficult by the upperclassmen's generous application of lard to the monument. This year, the superintendent of the academy nixed the lard, on grounds of safety.
TWS reader Dorothy L. Rockwell, mother of a recent USNA grad, sent along these reflections on the tradition's sudden death:
One spring day in 2004 I sat on a folding chair surrounded by other proud parents calling encouragement to our plebes climbing the “greased pole.” My daughter, USNA class of 2007, was proud to have fallen down three tiers of classmates in her attempt to reach the top.
During her time at USNA she completed a semester exchange to West Point and met cadet Brian Hottel and so she became an Army officer when she graduated. They were married June 9, 2007. Capt Brian Hottel and soon to be Capt RuthAnn Hottel have served in Iraq and are currently serving in Afghanistan. On their first anniversary they were in different parts of Iraq and on their third anniversary they will be in different parts of Afghanistan. Both are brave, hard working, dedicated young people. I doubt being allowed to climb the greased pole while being sprayed with a garden hose did her permanent harm.
I was happy to read your piece in The Scrapbook and will be sending it to her. If I could email the USNA “supe” I would tell him he is a weenie…our kids are tough and brave and will soon be asked to put their lives on the line. Do not destroy a tradition to provide a false sense of security for a day.
Thanks again for your article.